Pantropical spotted dolphin (Stenella attenuate)

 

Circum-global in tropical and some warm temperate waters. One of the most abundant cetaceans (estimated world population: 2 million).

At sea identification: Mature animals are 1.7-2.5  m in length, similar in shape to other Stenella species. The countershaded juvenile gradually acquires spotting, contrasted to the background (light on dark and vice versa). Tip of snout is white. Stripes from snout to eye and pectorals. Open water dolphin, over depths exceeding 1,000 m. Very acrobatic and sociable to boats. Fast, energetic and surface-active swimmer, seen from afar by the splash of its long shallow leaps. Breaches frequently. Dives short (up to 3 min) and shallow relative to related species.  Group size in the Red Sea is 5-20.

Identifying marks on land: It is hard to positively identify beached Stenella species, unless coloration pattern is preserved. Teeth like in striped dolphin.

Feeds at night on vertically migrating fish, cephalopods and shrimp at the top water layer, down to 200 m. Sexual maturity at 10 y in females and 14 y in males. Peak calving in summer, calf weaned at 18 m, with 2-3 years between births. The most common cetacean in the Red Sea.

Additional facts:

Adult weight: 100 Kg.

Newborn length is 0.8 m

Life expectancy: Not known.

 

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